Couple wins ‘David vs Goliath’ housing estate battle

File photo

File photo

Published Nov 22, 2016



Johannesburg - A young couple who took on a plush housing estate's body corporate regarding its rules have emerged victorious in what they described as a David versus Goliath matter.

Sifiso Ntshangase and Vuyile Zikalala, of Greenstone Estate in Edenvale, Ekurhuleni, hauled one of their neighbours, Tanja Edmondson, and the Bushwillow Park Homeowners Association to court in September, accusing them of illegally preventing them from building their house in the estate.

They said Edmondson was objecting to their house plans for no good reason and the association was failing to protect their rights and interests.

They said the association had turned a blind eye to Edmondson’s “unreasonable and arbitrary conduct” and that she had applied the estate's rules selectively.

For a year-and-a-half, the three were locked in a legal battle. On Monday, the court ruled against Edmondson and the association.

The judge said Edmondson's reasons for her objections to the couples’ housing plans were “arbitrary and unreasonable”.

The judge ordered the association and Edmondson to approve the couple’s plans. The association was also ordered to submit the couple’s housing plans to the relevant authority so they could start building their house.

In addition, Edmondson was ordered to pay for the costs of the application.

Speaking outside court after the judgment, an elated Ntshangase said the matter had always been about justice and he never thought of giving up although he was losing money.

“This was a David versus Goliath matter and justice has been served. People should know that this is a constitutional democracy and there is rule of law. When people are frustrated by rules they must have trust in the justice system,” he said.

Ntshangase and Zikalala bought a piece of vacant land at the Greenstone Estate in February last year. Building plans at the estate are guided by the estate’s architectural guidelines, including that “no windows or balconies of the house shall overlook the living space of adjacent buildings unless approved by the architectural review committee and all affected neighbours”.

The couple gave their plans to Edmondson and another neighbour to approve, in accordance with the rules. The other neighbour didn't have a problem with them, but Edmondson said one of the two balconies would overlook her property.

The couple replaced the balcony with an opaque window so that the person inside the house wouldn’t be able to see outside. They kept one of the balconies facing the street.

But Edmondson said she didn't want a window of that size overlooking her property.

She was also unhappy with the large window in the domestic quarters, saying it should be made smaller or removed as there was a concern about possible noise because the domestic quarters were opposite her bedroom.

Edmondson said the couple should build a 2m screen to cover the remaining balcony facing the street.

Ntshangase and Zikalala refused, and took the matter to court.

Edmondson and estate manager Stuart McKenzie declined to comment.

Last month, a dispute over a wall being constructed in an estate sparked a hostage drama in Moreleta Park, Tshwane, in which resident Danie Smalls shot and kill three people before committing suicide.

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